Wednesday April 14, 2010

Italy’s Highest Court Rejects Same-Sex “Marriage” Bid

By Hilary White

ROME, April 14, 2010 ( – Italy’s highest court ruled today against a bid to institute “gay marriage” in the two northern cities of Venice and Trento. Local news services report that the judges ruled that it is up to lawmakers, not the courts, to define marriage. Arguments in favour of changing the law, the Constitutional court ruled, were either “unfounded” or “inadmissible.”

The ruling comes in answer to a civil suit launched by two homosexuals from Venice who sued after officials denied them a marriage license.

Italy does not legally recognize any type of same-sex union, although several local municipalities have passed laws providing for civil unions that allow same-sex partners to register.

The Italian Forum of Family Associations welcomed the decision, saying the court had “chosen in favor of the good of society.” But homosexualist groups vowed to keep up pressure, “both in the courts and in society, until the full equality of homosexuals is recognized in civil marriage law.”

Homosexualist activists have found the strategy of civil suits successful in overturning marriage definitions in Canada and in the United States, but Italian law retains the primacy of Parliament, making it difficult to bring in legal recognition of same-sex partnerings.

In 2007, the Romano Prodi leftist coalition government brought in a draft bill that would have recognised same-sex partners, granting them and unmarried cohabiting opposite-sex couples various welfare benefits and inheritance rights after living together for at least nine years. The bill was eventually dropped, although polls had shown that 67 per cent of Roman Catholics and 80 per cent of Italians overall supported it.

The case in Venice began in April last year, when the Tribunal of Venice sent the issue to the Constitutional Court. Activists have seized on ambiguities in the Italian constitution, which has a gender-neutral definition of marriage.